Tornado hits New Zealand’s largest city – Chaos every where!

A BMW shattered by tornado

Nature has once again showed its fury in New Zealand. Auckland, the largest city of New Zealand is also one of the sunniest city in that country, with an average of 2060 sunshine hours per annum. But that sunshine was vanished as dark skies and violent winds ruled Auckland for hours, The hustle and bustle city was hit by a tornado on May 4. The tornado killed one person and injured some 20+ in the city. New Zealand was also badly affected by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake on February 22 that devastated the South Island city of Christchurch and killed at least 169 people.

How does an ordinary tornado forms?

Formation of tornado requires supercell

Well, before thunderstorms develop, a change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed with increasing height creates an invisible, horizontal spinning effect in the lower atmosphere. Rising air within the thunderstorm updraft tilts the rotating air from horizontal to vertical. An area of rotation, 2-6 miles wide, now extends through much of the storm.Most strong and violent tornadoes form within this area of strong rotation. 

A lower cloud base identifies an area of rotation known as a rotating wall cloud. This area is often nearly rain-free. Moments later a strong tornado develops in that area. Softball-size hail and damaging “straight-line” winds also occurred with this storm.

Behavior of Auckland tornado

The tornado travelled for over 5 kilometres (3.1 mi), with the wind speed estimated to be over 200 kilometres per hour (120 mph). The tornado first touched down in Albany and then passed through neighboring Birkenhead. The tornado was a F 2 tornado on the Fujita scale.

“Destruction and chaos is every where”, locals say

Destruction and pain

Though the tornado killed one person but it brought massive destruction to many parts of the city. A shopping mall, a large hardware store and a supermarket were badly affected. The locals were frightened to see the tornado near their home. One local said,”There’s probably six or seven seriously damaged cars, and I saw cars flying off the ground about 30 meters (100 feet) in the air”.

Was it a rare event?

 Not really, tornado are not uncommon in this part of the world. Particularly on the country’s North Island, where Auckland is situated. But they tend to be smaller and dissipate quickly than those seen in the U.S, Auckland generally gets one or two tornadoes a year. Number of tornadoes in New Zealand is still greater than those in Bangladesh and Eastern India.


Past tornadoes in New Zealand

View of Auckland tornado on May 4

There had only been five tornadoes in New Zealand including Auckland’s tornado. No major damage occurs during these storm as the tornadoes are weak and dissipate quickly;

  • On August 25, 1948, a killer tornado in Waikato killed 3 people while injuring some 80 others.
  • On January 19, 1983, tornado targeted Christchurch, killing some no body.
  • On August 15, 2004, a tornado occurred in Taranaki, killing 2 people.
  • On July 4, 2007, tornado hit New Plymouth, luckily no causality was reported.

Tornadoes are serious killing machine!

Tornadoes are the number one killing weather phenomenon in the world but luckily the half of the world tornadoes occur in U.S

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